Zim reserve bank will not reverse Barclays Zim sale

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Zimbabwe’s central bank will not bow down to pressure from Zanu PF and other campaigners seeking to have the sale of Barclays Zimbabwe to FMB reversed as the apex bank is merely a regulator.

Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe governor John Mangudya said on Monday that the central bank will not interfere with how Barclays plc will dispose of its stake in the Zimbabwean unit.

Barclays plc is drawing down its investments in Africa and has also said it has received approvals for the sale of Barclays Africa, formerly Absa.

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Mangudya said on Monday: “As the central bank we do not interfere on the sale of shares, we are just a regulator.”

He was adressing committee members from the finance committee in Parliament.

Mangudya’s comments come on the back of pronouncements by President Robert Mugabe’s Zanu PF that the deal be reversed as it is against indigenisation principles. Zimbabwe’s indigenisation policy requires that foreign owned companies own no more than 49% in local firms.

However, the government has said current international finance and mining groups can keep majority shares. This followed intense disagreements between ministers over implementation of the policy in the banking sector.

The sale of Barclays Zimbabwe to Malawi’s FMB is also being resisted by employees at the Zimbabwean bank who had also expressed interest to buy the shares.
Mangudya has now revealed that about a third of the bank’s shares will remain listed on the Zimbabwe Stock Exchange after the deal is concluded. FMB and Barclays said last week that the deal now awaited regulatory approvals.

“32% of the shares from Barclays Bank will remain listed on the Zimbabwe Stock Exchange,” said Mangudya.

The bank’s employees will get a 10% shareholding in the bank after conclusion of the deal. Interesingly,  the social security authority in Zimbabwe had backed the bid by employees and management for the 60% stake disposed of by Barclays plc.

Mugabe did not address the issue on calls for the Barclays Zimbabwe sale to be reversed when he addressed a gathering of Zanu PF youths who called for the deal to be rescinded.

Barclays Zimbabwe is one of the solidly established banks in Zimbabwe. Other foreign owned banks in the country include units of Standard Chartered, Nedbank and Standard Bank among others.

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